Thursday, March 13, 2014
Snowy Owl in Louisiana?
The Louisiana birding community is abuzz with discussion of a photograph of an apparently all-white owl perched on a baldcypress knee along the shore of the Amite River Tuesday.
The prevailing opinion at the moment is that it is a Snowy Owl. Louisiana birders have been searching for a Snowy all winter, since there is an historic irruption of them this winter, with birds as far south as Vicksburg, MS, and Jacksonville, FL so far. I personally have made several trips to the Lakefront Airport to scan from the terminal second floor, since Snowies have a track record of liking airports (most famously Logan Airport in Boston), and coastlines in general.
The photos can be seen here:
The main uncertainty about the photographed bird is the possibility of an albino or leucistic (another condition confering white coloration) Barred Owl, for which a cypress swamp would be much more reasonable as habitat. Snowies are tundra birds, and are normally only seen in wide open habitats. The Louisiana State Museum has a committee that evaluates unusual records (the Louisiana Bird Records Committee); they will ultimately try to find ways to solve that question.
Keep your eyes open- winter birds from the far north sometimes linger well into the spring when they do show up around here, so we may several more weeks to find another!